U.S. Department of Justice: Enhancements for Juvenile Indigent Defense Systems
The Enhancements for Juvenile Indigent Defense Systems program will support states and localities in developing and implementing tools and strategies to ensure that youth involved with the juvenile justice system have fair and equal access to high-quality legal representation and to resources that address the collateral consequences of justice system involvement. This program will provide funding to enhance juvenile defense in one or more of the following areas: staff training, data collection and analysis, juvenile defense delivery system analyses, and/or addressing a specific need(s) identified by the state or locality related to juvenile defense services delivery.
This initiative is composed of two categories:
Category 1: State and Local Juvenile Defense System Enhancements – This program will provide funding to: develop and implement specialized training for public and appointed defenders who provide services to juvenile defendants from arrest through post-disposition and reentry; improve data collection and reporting capacity of the juvenile court system, specifically relating to youth and their legal representation, and access to services pre- and post-adjudication; analyze the juvenile defense delivery system(s) to identify critical program, practice, and policy needs, areas for improvement, and aspects that are working well and may be replicable and/or scalable across jurisdictions; and address an identified need(s) or gap(s) within the applicant’s juvenile justice system related to providing juvenile offenders with full access to high-quality, specialized juvenile defense services.
- Focus Area 1: Provide specialized training for public and appointed defenders who provide services to juvenile defendants from arrest through post-disposition and reentry. Areas in which applicants may provide training include, but are not limited to: behavioral development, the impact of exposure to violence and trauma on human development and well-being, substance abuse, and mental health issues; juvenile interviewing and advising techniques; juvenile-specific laws and procedures; juvenile-specific disposition advocacy, including evidence-based service programs that promote youth success and public safety; and the impact of collateral consequences on juvenile recidivism. Applicants who focus on this category of work should demonstrate how they will leverage web-based learning technology to maximize their proposed program’s reach and impact.
- Focus Area 2: Improve data collection and reporting capacity for the juvenile court system, specifically relating to youth and their legal representation and access to services pre- and post-adjudication. In many states, a lack of uniform and specific metrics related to juvenile defense systems and access to juvenile defense counsel makes identifying strengths and gaps difficult, inhibits cross-jurisdictional comparison, and can result in gaps in services, sometimes referred to as “justice by geography.” Key metrics that awardees should consider collecting in each case and in the aggregate include, but are not limited to: the point at which counsel is appointed in a case; whether juvenile defense counsel is present at each stage of a case (intake, diversion, bail/bond, detention, probable cause, pre-adjudication, plea or adjudication, disposition, appeals, and post-disposition); whether counsel was waived or withdrawn, and at which stage; and case outcomes.
- Focus Area 3: Analyze the juvenile defense delivery system to identify critical needs and gaps in services, areas for improvement, and aspects that are working and may be replicable and/or scalable across jurisdictions. Applicants should conduct a baseline analysis of access to and quality of juvenile defense counsel in their service area in order to provide system stakeholders with critical, actionable information on which to base juvenile justice system improvement efforts. Applicants should examine and compare trends, gaps, and points of success across jurisdictions.
- Focus Area 4: Address a specific, identified need or gap within the juvenile justice system to improve access to and/or the quality of juvenile defense services for youth at every stage of justice system involvement, from arrest and charging to appeal and reentry. Applicants should emphasize data-driven, evidence-based system-improvement tools and strategies. Applicants may choose to create, amend, or rescind juvenile justice policies and procedures and align programs, services, systems, tools, and practices with what research shows works to improve juvenile defense. Examples of needs/gaps that could be addressed include, but are not limited to ensuring youth cannot waive counsel unless and until they have had an opportunity to meet with counsel; providing access to counsel in advance of hearings (in order to effectively prepare and decrease detention); providing access to counsel post-disposition (to assist with school reentry, release plans, facilities issues, etc.); increasing access to counsel specifically for reentry planning and civil legal services, to include record clearance; automatic appointment of counsel; elimination of fees levied against youth and families for accessing counsel; increasing training and technical assistance on addressing or eliminating collateral consequences; advancing efforts to decrease detention and incarceration; increasing efforts to create juvenile defense specialization in their states through training and standards; or building juvenile defense capacity in rural, remote, and/or tribal areas.
Category 2: Juvenile Defense Training and Technical Assistance – A national training and technical assistance (TTA) provider will be selected to work with state and local juvenile defense delivery systems to improve juvenile defense delivery systems and juvenile defense practice for public and appointed juvenile defenders. TTA should emphasize data-driven, evidence-based, juvenile defense delivery strategies that address the impact of exposure to violence and trauma. The TTA provider will carry out the following activities: Provide intensive TTA to state and/or local grantees selected under Category 1 (the TTA should support system improvements that are initiated and led at the state and local levels); implement strategies to enhance delivery of high-quality, specialized, legal defense services for youth; assess and address public and appointed juvenile defenders’ training needs; facilitate peer-to-peer consultation and networking among juvenile defenders and help develop communities of practice across the juvenile defense field; develop tools and resources that emphasize data-driven, evidence-based, juvenile defense delivery system improvement strategies; advance best practices in juvenile defense service delivery; enhance procedural justice to ensure children and youth are afforded due process and equal protection; and maintain a national resource clearinghouse for states, localities, and the juvenile defense bar.
Amount: Dependent upon category, as follows:
- Under Category 1, up to three awards of up to $364,393 each will be made, for a total amount awarded of up to $1,093,178.
- Under Category 2, one award of up to $650,000 will be made.
All awards will be made for a 36-month period of performance.
Eligibility: Dependent upon category, as follows:
- Category 1: State and Local Juvenile Defense System Enhancements – Eligible applicants are limited to states (including territories) and units of local government.
- Category 2: Juvenile Defense Training and Technical Assistance – Eligible applicants are limited to nonprofit and for-profit organizations (including tribal nonprofit and for-profit organizations) and institutions of higher education (including tribal institutions of higher education).
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